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Philosophy & Religious Studies

Choosing a Topic

The simple step of researching a topic can often make the entire process much easier. This can be done if you follow these steps.

  1.     Make certain to select a topic that interests you (librarians can help with this!).
  2.     Read some background information on your topic.

After you have a well-formed topic, you should:

  1.     Create a research question.
  2.     Do a test search on your topic, to see what is out there.
  3.     Broaden or narrow your topic as necessary.

When you are doing background research on your topic, you want to consult reference sources. These can be encyclopedias found in the library or online; and yes, in this preliminary phase of research you can use Wikipedia. Never cite Wikipedia in an academic paper, but if you are deciding if a topic interests you, go for it. Just remember that Wikipedia is not consistent and while one entry might be accurate another one may not be.


Concept mapping

When beginning your research it is helpful to begin by thinking about how you will proceed with your research.

What are going to be your keywords for searching?  Are there alternative words that you might need to use?

One way to visualize your research is to create a concept map (or mind map).  This might help you see the big picture of your research and where you may be able to go with your research.